Wednesday was a historic night for the village of Beaver and fans of youth sports.
For the first time ever, a softball game was played under the newly installed lights over Field 1 at Beaver’s First National Bank Park. For more details about the field and the opening ceremony, please see the accompanying story on the front page of the A section of this edition.
Eastern and Minford, two junior high softball teams that didn’t have the opportunity to have a spring season due to COVID-19 cancellations, had the honor of being the first squads to play under the lights.
The Eastern Lady Eagles were coached by Brian Felts and assisted by Andee Lester and Kyla Poorman. Eighth-grade players included Hannah Felts, Megan Nickell, Madison Shuler, Sandra Conley, Kelsey Poorman, Moriah Compton, Brailey Flynn, Arianna Hammerstein, and Kadance Quincel. Seventh-grade players included Madi Day, McCady Conley, Anna Lesh, Haleigh Boberski, Audrey Nolen, Sheyenne Montgomery, Lydia Turner, Aerian Tackett. Sixth-grade players included Addi Mathews and Bre Bevins.
The Minford Lady Falcons were coached by Randy Childers. Eighth grade players included Miranda Johnson, Kallie Childers, Lyrrik Dalton, Addi Lute, Katie Strickland, Harley Lute, Kaylee Essman and Olivia New. Seventh grade players included Layla New, Makennah Craft, Lyla Napier and Mollyann Runyon.
As far as gameplay, it was a rough night for the Lady Eagles, as the Minford Lady Falcons hit the ball hard and took advantage of every error in the 22-2 win.
Minford started the scoring in the game immediately, adding two runs in the top of the first inning and three more in the top of the second. The Lady Eagles generated their only two runs in the home half of that second inning. Megan Nickell led off and reached first base on a dropped ball. Nickell got an early start to second with the intent to steal, and she went the rest of the way around the bases when Madison Shuler doubled. Shuler later scored on a groundout from Moriah Compton to cut the lead to 5-2.
The Lady Falcons continued to hit hard, adding three more runs in the third inning before exploding for more runs in the remaining innings en route to the 22-2 win.
“It was a rough night,” said Eastern Junior High Coach Brian Felts. “But that team is a good group of girls. I’ve coached a lot of them before, so it was great to have them here for this game.”
Although the outcome wasn’t what the Lady Eagles hoped, they were thrilled to have the opportunity to play the first game under the lights.
“It is a rare opportunity for a junior high team to get to play under the lights in such a beautiful venue at this park. This is our first and only home game, so it is amazing for us to have the opportunity,” said Felts.
“This field has held high school games, men’s and women’s co-ed games and a lot of travel tournaments have been played here. The lights are beautiful. This field will make money by being able to host more tournaments. The people of Beaver can be proud of this facility. It will bring people to Beaver.”
While some of the young ladies had played on lighted fields in travel ball, they have not had the opportunity to do so in Beaver.
“I’ve played here for a while now. My (older) sister played here,” said eighth-grader Megan Nickell. “There hasn’t ever been lights. So sometimes they’ve had to quit games before because there were no lights. It is a good time now to be playing. Now teams can play games under the lights, so it will make a big difference.”
Addi Mathews, one of two sixth graders on the roster, was the starting catcher.
“As the youngest on the team until my friend got healed (from an injury), I got to catch underneath the lights. That was exciting,” said Mathews. “Now I can do this even more when little league comes back.”
Hannah Felts and Madison Shuler both logged innings at pitcher in the game for Eastern.
“Considering this is my first year playing for Eastern, I didn’t get to do anything like this at my other school,” said Felts. “It is really exciting and fun to have the opportunities to do stuff like this at my new school. I love it.”
Shuler added, “For it to be our eighth grade year and last game of the season, it was nice to be able to represent our hometown and be able to play under the lights as the first team to do it.”